Is Marvel Changing Disneyland?

Terrence steps in with an opinion piece on the Captain EO move, and the upsetting trend of the Marvel brand entering the parks to ask … 

Is Marvel Changing Disneyland?

Sigmund Freud coined the phrase “Childhood Amnesia” to explain the phenomena of most people having no memory of events prior to the age of 4. This theory states that memories of events will be retained if they are traumatic or key to the person’s development. December 3, 1983 was one of those events for me.

My aunt and I were headed to her house to join the rest of my family surrounding the gigantic 20” television screen in anticipation. After a quick stop to pick up my cousin from the hair dressers, we bounded into the house behind his dripping Jheri Curl and took our place in the living room with the others. What happened next was nothing short of amazing: zombies and monsters performing some of the most amazing choreography that I have ever seen. In front was their leader, Michael Jackson. The man was a God for as much as I was concerned – moves like Fred Astaire and the presence of Elvis Presley. This moment changed my life.

Fortunately, I found a way to sustain that feeling every time I visited Disneyland. Michael Jackson as Captain EO became an attraction within the best park in the world. How can you beat that? Well, it appears that Disneyland is attempting to, by giving visitors to the park the opportunity to watch a preview of an upcoming movie. Sounds like a cool new attraction, right?

You’re right, it doesn’t.

Now, this will not be the first time that Captain EO will be replaced with another attraction. Captain EO originally ran in Disneyland from September 1986 until April 1997 when it was replaced by Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. I was livid when the attraction was removed from the park, but I understood that the music, special effects, and the star of the show were becoming passé. To counteract the dwindling line for the Magic Eye Theater, Disneyland decided to present an interactive show with a popular movie series and new effects (moving seats and water mists in sequence with the action on the screen.) As much as I loved Captain EO, this decision made sense. You could only imagine my surprise and unbridled glee when Captain EO returned to the theater in 2010. The effects were still very outdated, but the nostalgia of the ride more than made up for this issue. With that being said, the ever-changing world of Disneyland definitely calls for an attraction that will continue to engage audiences, but will a 13-minute long commercial for the upcoming Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy keep with Disneyland’s history of creating memorable moments for its patrons?  Is Marvel changing Disneyland for the worse?

I understand that this is a “temporary” closure of Captain EO to make way for this preview. Did you notice the quotations around the word “temporary?” That was intentional because there has been no concrete return date for Captain EO. I believe that Disneyland will use this 2-3 month run of this preview to see if the Magic Eye Theater will be able to become a cash-cow for Marvel, Pixar, and Disney movies. Think about the possibility of generating millions of dollars of revenue by simply wetting the lips of prospective moviegoers while they visit the Park. That is brilliant, but is that, truly Disney?

Disneyland always does an amazing job of creating attractions that are as engaging as they are engrossing. Every attraction within the park thrusts you into a thrill that you would normally never experience. A good portion of these experiences rely on the fact that there is a resolution at the end of the attraction (Jack Sparrow gets the treasure, Indiana stops the stone boulder, and you escape the yeti.) This resolution gives you the opportunity to search within the park for your next thrill without feeling that you have “missed out” on something associated with the attraction.

The issue that I have with a preview being an attraction is that your thrill is not complete until you spend more time and money OUTSIDE of the park to complete this thrill. Disneyland has done an amazing job of incorporating acquired companies within it’s properties.  How is Marvel changing Disneyland? Innovations has slowly become a display of props from the Iron Man and Thor movies  and, now, a preview of an upcoming movie in the Magic Eye theater. Basically, Disneyland is confusing advertisement of the Marvel brand with incorporation of the Marvel brand. They did not have the problem incorporating the Pixar and LucasFilms brands into the parks because the light-hearted nature of the stories lends itself to the family-friendly feel of both Disneyland and California Adventure. Marvel has, historically, been focused on much darker themes. This has created a need for the audience to be observers of the Marvel action instead of being part of the action. That is not a good formula for an engaging, enduring attraction let alone an entire theme park dedicated to the Marvel brand.

Here’s hoping that the Imagineers are able to create a new Marvel theme park that is filled with attractions that bring the Marvel stories to life. Until then, keep your preview and give me back Captain EO.

Am I wrong on this?  Please, let me know!

The only Captain we want to see in Disneyland! Sorry Captain America …



One Reply to “Is Marvel Changing Disneyland?”

  1. This isn’t a marvel brand issue. Disney did this with TRON at DCA displacing Muppets 3D. I see it as a soft launch of the brand at the park without a lot of capital investment before the 3rd park launches. I don’t like it (the tron preview was stupid too), but it’s overshadowed by the bigger issue that Disney is not willing to invest in tomorrowland right now. So it’s hard to be too mad when you know they’re so constrained in this space. .

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